VA's new master record aims to be a 'single source of truth' for veteran data
The new VA Profile system is a back-end data storage program that will give agency offices and systems a single source for accurate veteran information.
The Department of Veterans Affairs aims to further streamline and share critical information about its veterans with a new Master Data Management system, a back-end system that prioritizes taking accurate data elements and distributing them across VA entities, becoming a centralized backbone data system for the agency.
Previously announced in the Federal Register, the VA Profile platform communicates with preexisting VA application programming interfaces and allows them to access an expansive amount of veteran data, such as contact information and benefits eligibility, deploying it across agency offices and internal records.
The software will gather this information from other agency data sources to help power everyday VA business operations, especially facilitating services between VA officials and veterans.
Speaking with Nextgov, James Whited, the director of customer master data and APIs within the data analytics product line in the VA’s Office of Information and Technology, explained that the new VA Profile will leverage authoritative data sources from multiple systems within the VA and create a master record.
“VA Profile is really trying to provide a single source of truth for common and shared data for the veteran…throughout the VA into VA systems,” Whited said.
He added that the key innovative component of the VA Profile is how it summons and connects diverse data sources to officials across the VA. It also aims to help employees find critical data easily while working.
“VA Profile, you can think of it…like, behind the scenes wiring between those systems,” Whited said. “We want to provide that data to you quickly, easily with a modern technology stack and modern interface, so that you can quickly move on to doing what's really going to drive and provide value to the veteran and help VA employees efficiently do their jobs.”
Initially, the VA Profile only gathered veteran contact information, later expanding to include benefit eligibility, military service and demographic data.
This data already exists in VA datasets, but is now consolidated in the VA Profile as a master veteran profile. With existing data now streamlined and located in one platform, Whited said that VA employees will be able to do their jobs more efficiently by not having to hunt data across agency systems.
“VA Profile is simply the mechanism that's going to give you that data, provide that access point,” he said. Conversely, having key veteran information stored in one digital location also helps veterans themselves easily access and update their information through interfaces like va.gov.
Once augmented, data stored within the VA Profile will be distributed across many other systems at the VA—though not all. Whited confirmed that VA Profile will interact with the embattled electronic health record system, distributing relevant, updated veteran data into an EHR.
Whited said his office plans on adding more data into VA Profiles, including key indicators like veteran interactions with VA call center agents.
Editor's note: This story was updated to clarify the description of VA Profile.